After making his Mexico national team debut in the 68th minute and contributing a fine assist in a 3-1 friendly victory over Venezuela on Wednesday night, 21-year-old LA Galaxy winger Uriel Antuna still found himself outside Mexico's 23-man Gold Cup squad on Thursday.
But he was — and could still be — so very close.
Defender Edson Alvarez exited the match in the 31st minute with an injury, and afterward manager Tata Martino said Antuna would be the next man up if Alvarez's injury proved substantial.
Alvarez was included on the squad Mexico released Thursday. But tournament rules permit injury-based replacements up to 24 hours before a team's first group match.
Mexico opens Group A on June 15 against Cuba at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., which would make a return easy for Antuna. The Galaxy stay home to face Orange County FC in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup next Wednesday (10 pm ET | ESPN+ in the US, then don't play again until visiting FC Cincinnati on June 22.
Antuna has started every single MLS match for the Galaxy this season, and has two goals and two assists in 1,289 minutes.